While at Mass on Sunday, it occurred to me from the readings and homily that there is so much religious legalism in America today. The conservative right wing Christian’s who are convinced that there is only one truth, which is so clear it is white from black and which only they exclusively posses. Only they possess the amazing ability to discern the exclusive truth. All who do not agree with their views are in sin. There is no room for tolerance about the possibility of discussion and examination. There is no tolerance for the sincere belief’s of others. There is no tolerance for freedom of conscience in others whose views differ. Their entire religious world is totally black and white.
I am reminded about the story of the Muslim who was intent upon killing an enemy, but as he pursued him he would stop for the obligatory five times a day prayer and then get up to continue his pursuit. But, he was always faithful the ritual of prayer while intent on committing murder.
When these Christians see this kind of bigotry in non-Christian religions they are quick to condemn, but are blind to the same fault in themselves and their religions. If they hear or read a viewpoint contrary to their own they impose sin on the other. These are the same people who believe there is no salvation outside their idea of faith.
When one reads Christian Scripture and the teachings of Jesus objectively, one should see how clearly He taught that love, love of God and love of neighbor, prevailed over any previously held ideas of religious legalism. The sin of legalism is that at its core is the idea that we earn salvation through observance of a prescribed set of rituals. This egotistical idea is abhorrent to the truth that salvation cannot be earned, but is a gift from God freely given and never owed or deserved. Save me from those who possess the exclusive right to know the one and only truth about God.